This story is offered as a way to help you become more aware, more mindful, and more effective as a leader.
When my kids were much younger, they would often blurt out “loop way, loop way, loop way” from the backseat as we were driving home and neared one of the turns to our house. You see, there were a couple different ways of going, and they were adamant they wanted to go the “loop way.”
Regretfully, too often I drove straight ahead as I pursued what I felt was the fastest, most direct route home. In truth, there was probably very little difference between the two. As most parents have experienced, I must have sometimes been just a little too tired to listen … but more often than not, as I reflect on it now, I just kept going most times because I had my preferred way of getting there, and I was the one driving.
I can see now a leadership mistake I was making that I didn’t see then.
When you’re in charge, and have some authority, and are responsible for “deciding” for a group, it’s easy to fall into the trap of “know-it-all-ism.” Or, “my-way-or-the-highway-ism.” Or, “this-is-the-way-we-do-it-here-ism.”
Those ways are probably alluring to you, because you get what you want. (Or you think you do … so go ahead and tell yourself that few people want an indecisive, unsure leader. I agree that’s generally true.)
But, on the other hand, very few people want the other extreme either … to be continually “bossed” or coerced into always doing it someone else’s way, not thinking for themselves, or just going along. You see, most of us like to have some ownership, or control over our circumstances. And when we do, it makes our work more satisfying and rewarding (i.e. “we feel better about it”), which keeps us interested in what we’re doing.
Isn’t it also true that making work attractive is how the best leaders get the most out of their people and the work that they do? I think so.
Begin by becoming a better listener … being aware in the first place that people want to go a different way. And then, being open to the possibility there are other ways, just as good, that will get the job done and produce the results you, and your organization expect. Give them a voice. Respect their thoughts. And clear the way.
Leaders Are Way Makers
You’ll get the best from people when you open up new ways of thinking, working, collaborating, getting things done, and making progress – which goes a long way toward helping people find meaning on the job. It’s how leaders create energy, develop new possibilities, and see pathways forward.
Be a way maker.
– Jerry Strom
For more information about our leadership and team development programs, please visit http://www.JerryStrom.com . Join the mailing list to receive new articles as they are published. This article is based on leadership research by Jerry Strom & Company, Inc. Find short insights on Twitter @JerryRStrom.